It all started for Bob Hyde when his Aunt's boyfriend showed up in a '60s Chevy Impala. That was it - he was hooked. Since then he's been through over 100 cars by his reckoning, and he's not about to let up anytime yet.

Fancying a roof chop, and not feeling confident enough to tackle the job himself without cocking it up, Bob rang around for some quotes. Most places said straight off that they could do the job but Paul Burnham's approach of, 'Lets look at some pictures of the car first, then I'll quote it' struck Bob as being the most honest response.

The Chevy was duly shipped down to Burnham Autos in North Kent, which is a fair old trek from Bob's place in Buckinghamshire, but as Bob says, 'At least I knew the job would be done properly.'


Change of plan

The original plans for the car were, obviously, the chop, as well as a pale pastel yellow paint job, whitewalls and hubcaps, sidepipes, fender skirts and a black interior with leopard print inserts. These were shelved when Bob bought the Budnik Switchblades at about the same time Len Beech debuted his pale yellow Merc. Unsure of what colour to now paint the Chevy, the decision was left to Paul, who came up with silver, setting the theme for the project. Starting with the chop, the roof fame down by 4in at the front and 4.75in at the rear, the lower corners of the original rear window being sunk into the rear deck. At the front the original screen was cut down, though all the side glass is new tinted glass, with the door windows now operated by XJ6 electric mechanisms. The same Jag also gave up its wiper to the Chevy.

Those who know their Chevys will know that stockers have stainless trims round the windows, meaning that all the holes had to be welded up in this case. While the welder was out the rear doors were welded shut, the front fenders were stretched by 1.5in and Mercury head light surrounds and stainless inserts added to french the headlights. The bodyline on the front fenders was also lengthened, with matching lines added between each headlight and the hood. At the same time all the handles, badges and trim were shaved and the split down the centre of the hood was welded up to make it one-piece. With all the bodywork complete the car treated to a coat of Audi silver.

Snow leopard

Burnham Autos retained the stock back seat and re-upholstered it in grey tuck 'n' roll vinyl, with snow leopard inserts. The front seat, sourced from an un-named '70s yank and widened 5in in the centre, was similarly trimmed, the central armrest flipping down to provide a storage compartment and a home for the stereo remote control. The door panels too were trimmed in vinyl, with the stock stainless trim now repositioned and a new headliner was fabricated. The re-trim carries through into the trunk, with all the hydraulics gubbins hidden from view behind the Chevy logo'd panel.

Stock six-pot

When it came to the running gear Bob decided from the start to leave it all stock as it was all in perfect working order. The 235ci straight six feeds a Powerglide trans and a stock rear end, now mounted on custom-made coil springs fitted around the hydraulic cylinders. The motor still retains its original dynamo, now repositioned to allow space for the 24v alternator that, charges the hydraulics batteries. The single exhaust now splits into two, allowing the twin Chevy logo tailpipes to exit under the bumper

The stock steering column now has an ally cover, topped with a Budnik 'wheel. As the dash had been smoothed, a new home had to be found for the switches, now residing in a panel under the seat best described as something from the Jetsons. It's just a pity that no-one gets to see it down there.

The hydraulics consist of a single 12v pump, split to give Bob back to front options but no side to side. With a choice of either 24v or 36v it's simply a matter of how high he wants the Chevy to jump!

The Chevy, christened Lois incidentally, debuted at the NHRA Supernats, walking off with the Scrapin' award, as well as gaining an army of admirers when it was on display on the Custom Car stand.

Excerpts reproduced with kind permission of Custom Car magazine.